File - In this Monday, April 17, 2017 file photo, far-right candidate for the presidential election Marine Le Pen speaks during a campaign meeting in Paris. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
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When France last put a Le Pen onto the threshold of the presidential Elysee Palace, one step from power, it could write off the 2002 election shock as a mere accident. Jean-Marie Le Pen squeezed into the winner-take-all runoff against Jacques Chirac with just 17 percent of the vote, a record low. This time, the presidential election success of another Le Pen, Jean-Marie's daughter, Marine, was anything but accidental.The entire political establishment and every poll had forewarned and foretold of Le Pen's first-round breakthrough. That voters pulled the trigger anyway – giving her 1.2 million more votes than in 2012 and, with 21.5 percent of the total, the best score in a presidential race for a Le Pen – showed how ingrained her brand of anti-establishment "French-first" nationalism has become in areas most bruised by and fearful of globalization's blows.That Macron couldn't do likewise without looking undemocratic is another measure of how Marine Le Pen is fighting her way into France's political inner circle.As in 2002, voters probably will come together in sufficient numbers to keep a Le Pen from power.
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